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Thirsty work for 'spies' Sean McGuire's SSuunnddaayy SSeerrmmoonnBecause sport's a religion round here Men in suits cast doubt on England.

I AM not sure how many people are tried for treason in this country any more.

I suppose that since public school boys in the Foreign Office and M16 stopped spying for the Russians, there is not much to be treasonable about, but I suspect that some of the same characters are back at their old tricks, except this time they are not spying for Russia, but casting doubt on whether Roy and Our Boys will win the World Cup.

I know it is a bold claim, but leaked documents from the bowels of Whitehall reveal the depth of this treachery.

Apparently the government wanted to weigh up the odds of how England will do in Rio, before it decided on whether or not pubs could stay open well beyond their usual hours.

The timing of England''s games means that a lot of them will only kick off at 11pm UK time, including the crucial opener against Italy, and so an assessment was called for by the boffins on the impact of later than usual pub opening.

When the answer came back, it was not full of patriotic optimism. The Sir Humphrey''s declared that 'while England are certain to be playing in matches in the first period, there is a high probability that they will not be playing in the later matches'' ie they will not get out of their group.

Now there are a number of ways of looking at this. First, it might mean potentially huge savings for TV companies, who can now safely avoid the vast expense of shipping out a small army of well paid pundits to their luxury hotels in Brazil, as they can safely commentate from Salford or somewhere else nearer than Rio, as England aren''t going to make it.

Second, whether or not England do well, the pubs are open later during the summer and for those who fancy a night cap, this is good news either way.

Third, it is an important insight into the way our government makes decisions.

When Home Office officials were asked on what basis they thought England were doomed, they replied that the prediction was 'the work of a statto who got a bit carried away with himself' ' and had used the odds being offered by the bookies as the reasoning for his prediction!

I am not sure whether we are being allowed a bit of leeway on pub opening hours in order just to watch the World Cup, or whether our rulers have decided that we all might need a bevvy now we know how they actually arrive at their decisions.


OPEN ALL HOURS?: Government officials have brainstormed over the impact of watching England in the pub this summer
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 18, 2014
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